6 Benefits of Using a Colocation Facility

What is Colocation?Colocation is a large industry within IT, and it continues to grow each year. From 2012 through 2017, the demand for server space due to an increase in online operations skyrocketed, boosting the colocation industry to $12 billion. Forecasts show that this growth will continue as organizations turn to colocation facilities, or “colos,” to take advantage of economies of scale. This is especially important for small- and mid-size companies; by sharing the cost of space and redundant infrastructure with others, they’re able to take advantage of better infrastructure and expert colocation operators while renting single server space, a full server rack, server cage or suite, or auxiliary services.


What is Colocation?

There are a number of definitions for colocation floating around on the web, so to clear up any misconceptions, colocation is when a company houses its physical servers in a third-party data center. The equipment is the company’s own hardware, but they receive the benefit of having an experienced colo provider manage their servers daily, providing the necessary power and cooling, and managing some of the basic connectivity and maintenance issues. Companies utilizing colo are essentially renting rack space, the infrastructure, and the utilities needed to operate them. One major benefit of colocation is that if a company decides it wants to bring its infrastructure back on-premise, or move it to another colocation facility, migration is easy; unplugging their server and moving it is all that is required.

Of course, not all companies want to purchase their own units and take the hit of a large capital expense. Instead, they may find a colo provider willing to rent physical servers, as well as the space needed to house them. Migrating in this scenario may be more difficult since the colo provider owns the hardware, not the company utilizing it. Be sure to review your service level agreement (SLA) closely.


6 Benefits of Colocation

Here are just a handful of the benefits to working with a reputable colocation provider.

  • Security. Along with offering firewalls, monitoring systems, and performing backups, reputable colo facilities have impressive physical security measures in place. Depending on the size of the facility, they may have dozens of DVR motion cameras to record surveillance footage every time motion is detected. Entrance into the facility is also well-guarded; most facilities will use multi-factor authentication (an access password or PIN number, an automatically-generated, time-based PIN, and biometrics, such as a fingerprint, retina scan, or facial recognition software) and employ alarmed man-traps so a potential criminal can’t slip into the facility behind an authorized person.

  • Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS). Electrical power outages, surges, and spikes are estimated to cost more than $150 billion in annual damages to the United States economy every year. While interruptions in service vary by frequency and duration throughout the U.S., the effect is the same for every organization: labor downtime, and the loss of productivity, business continuity, and data. A reputable colo facility will use a combination of power grids, generators, and battery backup to achieve power redundancy to keep clients operational even during an outage.

  • Weather Protection. Mother Nature has been on a tear lately. In 2018, damage from natural disasters including hurricanes, tornados, and wildfires, cost the United States nearly $200 billion. 2017 was even worse; with over $300 billion in damage, it was the worst year for natural disasters in American history. A reputable colocation facility will be located outside flood zones (generally at least 150 feet above sea level), away from wind-blown debris zones, and—especially for states plagued by hurricanes—CAT 3–5 hurricane-rated structures.

  • Fire Protection. Whether it’s a natural wildfire—estimated to have cost California $3 billion in 2018—or an electrical mishap, organizations selecting a colocation facility will want one with quality fire suppression systems to ensure their data remains safe. A good colocation facility will use a dry pipe system in common areas; in server rooms, fires will trigger the release of FE-25, an extinguishant that is stored as a liquid but discharges as a vapor.

  • Bursting Capability. While companies choosing to colocate their hardware enjoy the security of a private infrastructure, sometimes the demand for computing capacity spikes; think of a retailer receiving hundreds of thousands of hits to their website during Black Friday. Most colocation facilities offer the flexibility to burst into the public cloud at higher bandwidth levels, accommodating traffic without the need for repeat capital investments. Plus, data surges are often distributed across users to reduce bandwidth costs.

  • IT Support. Many organizations with on-premise infrastructure can’t afford to keep staff around the clock to monitor and maintain servers. However, with a reputable colocation facility, there will be on-site expert technicians available 24/7/365 to keep systems up and running on a regular basis. Companies using a colo provider have the assurance that if a server goes down in the middle of the night, staff can address the situation immediately—often, the customer isn’t aware there was ever a concern!

Considering Colocation?

According to the International Data Group (IDG), approximately 75% of companies are using data centers to store some of their data. If you’re thinking of colocating your on-premise data, or moving from one provider to another, DSM can help. Our world-class services can offer you the security and expertise you need. Contact DSM today to learn more about colocation and our other solutions.

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